Trump denies he made ‘s–thole’ comment, defends ‘tough’ stance
President Trump on Friday flatly denied using crass and racist language to describe countries he does not think are worthy of sending immigrants to the U.S. – as a leading lawmakers countered his claims.
Trump attempted to defend himself a day after reports that he questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “sh–hole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” the President tweeted.
He went on to criticize the immigration deal that was being discussed when he made his disparaging remarks, saying: “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made — a big setback for DACA!”
The White House did not deny his comments on Thursday, which were first reported by the Washington Post, but issued a statement saying that Trump supports immigration policies that welcome “those who can contribute to our society.”
Trump reportedly grew animated and exploded at lawmakers in the Oval Office while they were hammering out a bipartisan deal to protect immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), one of six lawmakers in the room, confirmed the reports of Trump’s remarks.
“To no surprise the President started tweeting this morning, denying that he used those words,” Durbin added. “It is not true. He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”
A paranoid-sounding Trump prattled on in his social media repudiation.
He specifically denied singling out Haitians and rejected reports that he told the group of lawmakers the U.S. should “take them out.”
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” he tweeted Friday, floating the prospect of recording future meetings.
Last month, it was reported that Trump attacked Haitians by saying they “all have AIDS.”
Trump, “in the course of his comments, said things which were hate-filled vile and racist,” Durbin told reporters.
“I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, and the Oval Office, any President has spoken the words that I personally heard our President speak yesterday.”
President Trump said he used “strong” language during an immigration meeting and denied saying an unspecified remark.
Sen. Jeff Flake(R-AZ) also backed the reports.
“The words used by the President, as related to me directly following the meeting by those in attendance, were not “tough,” they were abhorrent and repulsive,” he tweeted.
The latest immigration discussions were sparked when Trump rescinding the popular Obama-era DACA program, which protects 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, in September.
“The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards,” Trump tweeted on Friday, adding that he was not satisfied with proposals related to his much ballyhooed border wall and other immigration overhauls he has called for.
“USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly,” he added, apparently softening his language from a day earlier.
Democrats have signaled that they are not considering Trump’s suggestions limiting legal immigration in exchange for a deal on DACA.
Trump accused Democrats of not being “interested in life and safety” and threatening a “‘shutdown,’ but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most.”
The President’s comments were widely condemned as racist and arrogant.
“There is no other word one can use but ‘racist,’” United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said Friday in Geneva.
“It legitimizes the targeting of people based on who they are,” Colville, adding that the comments “go against the universal values the world has been striving so hard to establish since World War II and the Holocaust.”
“This isn’t just a story about vulgar language, it’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side,” he said.
The African Union said it is “frankly alarmed” by Trump’s derogatory statements.
“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo told The Associated Press. “This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”